Slow Days at the Shop. #1: Cleaning, finishing the band saw stand, carpentry, and making pestles

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Blog entry by fatman51 posted 09-29-2015 07:33 AM 9550 reads 1 time favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Slow Days at the Shop. series Part 2: Repairing my antique basswood drawing board. »

I took a look at my project lists this morning, like I do every Monday, and picked out a something that had been waiting a while. It was a carpenter project, custom exterior stair rails. I went out to my shop to take a look around and decide where to start. I decided that before I went outside in search of material, I needed to clean the place up. As I vacuumed the planer shavings out of the base of the band saw stand,

I decided to finish the case and build the drawer that I had planned for the stand before I got started with work.

Each leg was built 2 degrees off plumb, out from the center, and I built the drawer the same way. I filled the drawer with the stuff that belonged there and was happy that said stuff would not be buried under planer shavings again.

While I was cleaning the shop up from that project, I heard a truck outside. My friend, and neighbor, needed help with his shop project. His shop is a 20 by 60 building that he moved with him the last time he relocated.

The building has an interior wall that is structural. This wall had separated from the rest of the room on one side and was leaning 2 inches out of plumb.

The interior of this wall is not sheathed so I screwed a 2×2x16 inch block to the XBX on the outside corner where the wall was leaning out, another to the adjacent wall, which was sheathed on the inside, cut the obstructing nails that had once held the two walls together out of the way with a Sawzall, used a pair of clamps to pull the corner back together, and fastened the corner with 3 inch deck screws.

I did not take any pictures.

I went back to my shop but before I could gather materials for my intended carpenter project, a guy shows up at my door hoping that I might make him a couple of pestles. Visitors are welcome but unusual because I am not exactly in an industrial park. My shop is off of the beaten path inside of an old trailer house. My work generally comes through referral. As it happened. the man, an older guy who grows much of his own food, had heard that I made kitchen utensils. I do make kitchen utensils, and I decided to put off the general carpenter work.

He uses glass bowls and did not want me to make him any mortars so I decided not to clean off my 10er to make 2 pestles.

We figured out what he wanted, one out of birch, and the other out of alder, I suggested several more suitable hardwoods, but he wanted what he wanted.

I found a clean scrap of alder, laid out one side of the first pestle, cut it out with the band saw, laid out the next side of the block and cut it the same.

I did not cut the round end completely out because I still needed the layout on the adjacent side.

I smoothed the sides with the stationary belt sander and used a 7/16 round over to shape the corners. This gave me a perfect circle at the small end of the taper to guide my work on the disk sander. In no time, I had a conical pestle with round ends, which I completed shaping by hand with sandpaper. It did not get an oil finish, so I burnished it with a clean leather stropping wheel and moved on to the birch pestle which had a different shape.

I did not find a scrap of birch in the shop, so I looked for something in the yard.

Mmm, lets grind up some pesto!

That block could have been any number of woods but birch and alder both have distinct smells. The sawdust told me I had guessed well before I even examined the fresh sides.

I cut out my block and laid out two sides the same just as I had on the other pestle. I rounded the blank on the router and finished shaping with the sander, sandpaper, and a scraper.

-- The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself. Benjamin Franklin

3 comments so far

View Mark Wilson's profile

Mark Wilson

2696 posts in 1665 days

#1 posted 09-29-2015 11:32 AM

Don’t you think you’d better get to work on those stair rails? I swear.

Woodsmithery: The sport of the easily-distracted.

-- Mark

View fatman51's profile


335 posts in 2439 days

#2 posted 09-29-2015 03:07 PM

Honestly… shoulda got to them a while ago. You got that right! very easily distracted.

-- The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself. Benjamin Franklin

View robscastle's profile


6675 posts in 2806 days

#3 posted 10-19-2016 10:34 PM

Dont worry about the stairs as you say they are just a distraction

Concrete cancer there goes another one!

Soon I will have a completly wooden set!!

-- Regards Rob

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